Snapping a three-day rising streak, the BSE benchmark Sensex on Tuesday plunged over 590 points to end below 18,000-level as the rupee nosedived to 66-mark against dollar and concerns related to government's fiscal burden after the passage of Food Security Bill weighed on sentiment.
Investors lost a whopping Rs 1.7 lakh crore in wealth as across-the-board selling saw over 1,500 stocks closing in red.
Banks, capital goods, power and realty were among the hardest hit as investors pulled out money from blue-chips.
The 30-share Sensex, which had gained 652 points in past three sessions, tumbled by 590.05 points, or 3.18 per cent to 17,968.08, a level last seen on August 21.
On similar lines, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell below a crucial 5300 level by dropping 189.05 points, or 3.45% to 5,287.45. SX40 index, the flagship index of MCX-SX, closed 391.41 points or 3.55% down at 10629.77.
Brokers said with the rupee hitting a new record low of 66 per dollar in intra-day trade, market participants resorted to panic selling on concerns over increased capital outflows.
The selling pressure gathered momentum on worries that the Food Security plan would worsen government's fiscal burden while a weakening global trend on growing tension in Syria and surging oil prices also weighed, brokers added.
In 30-share Sensex pack, 27 stocks fell. HDFC Ltd dropped 7.70% to Rs 686.86, HDFC Bank by 8.04% to Rs 560.90, SBI by 2.40% to Rs 1,519.90 and ICICI Bank by 3.26% to Rs 803.30.
Among others, Reliance Industries, Sun Pharma, ONGC, NTPC, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra and Mahindra, BHEL, Larsen and Toubro, Bharti Airtel, ITC, Coal India and Hindal suffered heavy losses.
Bucking the general weak trend, stocks of software exporting companies led by Infosys and Tata Consultancy gained on hopes the strong rupee would boost their revenues.
The banking index suffered the most by losing 5.34% to 10,108.72 followed by capital goods by 4.71% to 6,980.68. Power index fell by 4.51% to 1,355.43 and realty index by 3.95% to 1,186.88.